Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 16 August 2018) . . Page.. 3098 ..
progressive work here in the ACT that made a difference to so many lives, not just here in the ACT but across the country.
I feel as though, if the feds had the chance, they would have interfered in the ACT laws when the ACT went about decriminalising abortion. Again, the ACT led the country. Now Queensland have introduced a bill to decriminalise abortion in that state. Things are changing. The world has not ended.
These are sometimes difficult conversations, but these were important social issues that our community was willing to discuss and make change around. In relation to passing laws on euthanasia, these are the kinds of conversations that our community is ready to have.
I support voluntary assisted dying. I have listened to everybody speaking here today. I can hear that, yes, of course, there are differences of opinion on that. We have been discussing it as a matter of debate. But Canberrans should be able to do more than just have a conversation, which is important. Thirty-six senators denied Canberrans the right for the ACT government to have a conversation and then be allowed to make laws around it.
The ACT government has said that it would not rush through euthanasia laws. It does require a considerable, considerate, meaningful, deep conversation. But that is the point. The point is that that is what we want: the ability to have that conversation.
Restoring rights to the ACT would simply give the ACT citizens the same right to decide on this issue of voluntary assisted dying as other Australians have. I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (3.47): I was not planning to speak, because I have not got a lot of voice left, but it is hard to sit here and listen to everybody and not add my views, which I think are probably very well known: I support territory rights—we are not second-class citizens—and I support voluntary assisted dying. My mother had 11 years in a nursing home where I visited more than weekly. I will not go into any more detail, because if I do I will start crying.
I thought I would speak because Mrs Dunne had a very novel argument against allowing the ACT the right to legislate. She said that because euthanasia was not an existing bit of law when we got self-government, we should not be able to legislate about it. I just cannot understand how this makes sense.
I would mention one thing: climate change. Whilst scientists knew about it at the time of self-government, it certainly was not part of the popular debate, and no Australian jurisdictions were legislating about it. Despite that, the Carnell government, with Brendan Smyth as the environment minister at the time, was one of Australia’s early leaders in climate change legislation. Had all that taken place as Mr Smyth wanted it to, we would be in a much better place than we are now. So I just do not think that that is a very logical argument. Things change, and we, like the rest of Australia, need to be able to react to them.